This study has been completed.
October 2003 – March 2009
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 created the Reading First program to help ensure that all students can read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The program was funded at $393 million in Fiscal Year 2008 and targeted low-income, low-performing schools. This evaluation was conducted in response to Reading First's legislation requiring that the U.S. Department of Education contract with an independent organization for a "rigorous, scientifically valid, and quantitative" evaluation of the program.
This evaluation included districts that used a quantifiable rating/ranking process to choose which schools received Reading First funding. Using regression discontinuity methods, the evaluation compared reading outcomes in schools scoring above the cutoff point for funding (Reading First schools) with reading outcomes in schools scoring below the cutoff point (non-Reading First schools).
The evaluation included about 125 Reading First schools and 125 non-Reading First schools, collecting data over a three-year period (2004–2005 through 2006–2007). Data collection included direct student assessments in reading comprehension (grades one through three) and decoding (grade one in spring 2007), and observations of classroom reading instruction in grades one and two.
The final report, titled Reading First Impact Study: Final Report, was released in November 2008.
The interim report, titled Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report, was released in April 2008.
A restricted-use file containing de-identified data is available for the purposes of replicating study findings and secondary analysis.